What should I know before filing for divorce?

If you are considering filing for divorce, below are some important things to know and do if you want to get the most out of your property settlement from the Ontario courts.

— Realistically assess your earning power. Maybe you were a stay-at-home wife who focused on making a good life for your husband and kids. When your marriage ends, don’t be surprised when those skills fail to translate to dollar signs in the workforce. If you need some training or to go back for a degree, this must be factored in to what you ask for in your settlement.

— Learn the true value of marital assets you and your spouse own jointly. Business assets acquired during a marriage may require expert valuation. The same holds true for real estate property, and if one of you received an inheritance but commingled the funds thereafter, those resources must be divided as well.

— Realistically assess marital debts. As important as it is to correctly valuate assets, it’s also important to determine what is owed by the couple as well. Allocating debt can be more difficult to negotiate than dividing assets.

— Document all of the valuable marital property. Does he have a vintage car collection or a stocked wine cellar? Those are valuable assets. What about art collections, expensive jewelry or antiques? If it’s value exceeds $300, consider listing it as assets. Take photos, and make sure to inventory the contents of safety deposit boxes and safes.

— Make copies of all financial records like bank statements, life insurance policies, cancelled checks and tax returns. Write down the numbers of all savings and checking accounts, as well as any stocks that you may own.

Make sure that you leave copies of all of these documents with your divorce lawyer to he or she can get a clear picture of your marital assets.

Source: Family Education, “21 Things to Do Before Asking for a Divorce,” accessed June 03, 2016

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